Tickets selling fast for festival events

IAN COLLINS Tickets are selling fast for performances featuring two symphony orchestras, six choirs, four world premières, classical musicians, an opera, a circus and the best jazz and world music.

IAN COLLINS

Carriages ferried VIP guests to the first Norfolk and Norwich festivals - annual fund-raising concerts for the hospital from 1772. Now the transport of popular delight is a newly-painted train engine.

The 12-day arts extravaganza starts on Wednesday, May 3, at Norwich station, with prime sponsor One railway naming a Class 90 locomotive in the gala's honour.

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival train will then bring in audiences from as far afield as London - plus performers from all over the planet.


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And while the festive Georgian show was a Handel oratorio, reprised year after year, it's hard to get a handle on the range of events now on offer.

Tickets are selling fast for performances featuring two symphony orchestras, six choirs, four world premières, classical musicians, an opera, a circus and the best jazz and world music.

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But there really is such a thing, in festive life at least, as a free launch.

For a huge outdoor spectacular will spill over Millennium Plain - outside the Forum - from 4.30 to 10.30pm.

Street performers, a crazy hairdressing show using members of the audience as models and an aerial gymnast suspended under a helium balloon will be joined by fiery and fishy giants made by Spanish company Sarruga and youngsters from Yarmouth.

Further free, family events will run throughout the programme, to climax on Sunday May 14 with an afternoon of music, street theatre, dance, workshops, and face painting, plus the Smallest Carnival Procession in the World.

Venues over 12 days and nights will range from Norwich Cathedral to Sheringham Little Theatre, via the King of Hearts, St Andrew's Hall, the Playhouse, the John Innes Centre and the Eagle Ward at the medieval Great Hospital.

Norwich (and indeed Norfolk) does still lack a purpose-built concert hall, to the dismay of many, but there is no beating the ancient acoustics of churches and historic buildings in and around the city which will shortly come into play.

The festival will also head outside, as Chapelfield Gardens play host to Circus Ronaldo and an opera is staged at Open (formerly Barclays Bank, Bank Plain) and festive walks explore the Mannington and Wolterton estates.

Festival director Jonathan Holloway says: “I was a theatre director before coming to Norwich, working with one production at a time, and now we're working on almost 100! It's exciting, thrilling, an incredible privilege and an enormous task.

“If I had to pick my favourite item on the bill it would be Circus Ronaldo.

“Brothers Danny and David are the best in the business. I always gasp, I never see the tricks coming. They've won numerous awards, and were the hottest tickets at the London International Mime Festival this year. Norfolk will love them.”

Events already sold out are: Evening of Italian Madness, Joglaresa, Juan Martin, Revolutionary String Quartet, Soweto Kinch, The Beznosiuks & Friends, John Williams.

Only a few tickets remain for: Philharmonia, Willard White, Budapest Symphony Orchestra, The Sixteen, Girl Talk.

For festival information and brochures phone 01603 614921 (or visit). Tickets: 01603 766400. Further details: www.nnfestival.co.uk

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